GELLI, Giovanni Battista

GELLI, Giovanni Battista. La sporta. Commedia…

 Florence, Appresso i Giunti, 1593.


8vo, pp. 87 (i), A-E8 F4, lacking final leaf F4 (with printer’s device and motto “nihil candidius”). Woodcut vignette of the Florentine lily within border and two putti on title page, lower corner torn and restored with new paper, loss of imprint date. Clean tear at foot of C2, very occasional light spotting and age yellowing throughout. Decorative paper on pastedowns, unclear early ink handwriting (probably autograph and shelf mark) on front fly. In vellum over thick boards.

The comedy La sporta was first published in 1543 by the Giuntas and republished by the same family of printers a few times throughout the sixteenth century. The title can be translated as “The Pot”, or “The Sack”. This work follows in the footsteps of the traditional Renaissance comic genre and it draws its main arguments and topoi from Plautus’s Aulularia: a stingy elderly person; a pot full of money jealously kept in secret; a cunning and good-hearted servant; a pregnant young lady, daughter to the old skinflint, who will succeed in marrying the poor student she fell in love with thanks to her father’s hidden treasure. Gelli also uses elements drawn from the fashion and cultural trends of the time, and he employs deliberately ideological motives, such as the use of particular Florentine linguistic features and satire aimed to the popular devotion. In the prologue the author defends his courageous attempt to mix and blend very diverse elements within the genre of the erudite comedy because, he says, direct experience of popular life and its language are, after all, an undeniable matter of fact which cannot be left out of our consideration, or ignored as unworthy. The cohesion and consistency of the comic genre allows the author to deal with topics that would be otherwise more fitting for a treatise on language or the degeneration of the religious practice. Giovanni Battista Gelli (1498-1563) was a Florentine man of letter. He is known also for his works Capricci del bottaio and La Circe, which are ethical and philosophical dialogues.